UK & World News
Tony Benn: Veteran Labour Politician Dies
Veteran Labour politician Tony Benn has died at the age of 88 at his west London home, surrounded by his family.
The former cabinet minister died on Friday morning, his family said.
His children Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua said: "It is with great sadness that we announce that our father Tony Benn died peacefully early this morning at his home in west London surrounded by his family.
"We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS staff and carers who have looked after him with such kindness in hospital and at home.
"We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives.
"But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better."
Benn had been admitted to Charing Cross Hospital in London at the beginning of February after feeling unwell, and returned home on March 4.
He was born Anthony Wedgwood Benn in 1925, the son of the 1st Viscount Stansgate and son of a baronet, William Wedgwood Benn, who had been a Labour minister in the governments of Ramsay MacDonald and Clement Attlee.
During his own career, he renounced his hereditary peerage in order to serve in the House of Commons and went on to become Postmaster General in the government of Harold Wilson.
He was made Chairman of the Labour party in the years when the party was in opposition in the early 1970s, before returning to the cabinet, initially as Secretary of State for Industry and then Secretary of State for Energy in the government of Jim Callaghan.
In his later years, during the years of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, his outspoken left wing views struck a chord with many disaffected by her policies.
But his refusal to accept his party's move towards the centre left him at odds with its later leaders, such as Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair, who often felt his outspokenness was a thorn in their side.
He remained unrepentant about sticking to his guns, even to his final interview just weeks ago.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the test of authenticity was doing what you believe in.
He said: "I got in (to Parliament) when I was very young, 25, and my whole life up and until I left Parliament 12 years ago has rotated around the constituency.
"That's been my life and I can't think of a better way of occupying a life.
"But it is very exhausting and you get tired out arguing - on the other hand if you're not arguing you are not doing what you're supposed to do."
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "He will be remembered as a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician.
"Tony Benn spoke his mind and spoke up for his values. Whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him, everyone knew where he stood and what he stood for."
Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: "Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him."
Former prime minister Tony Blair said: "Tony Benn was one of those rare things - a genuine radical for all his life. He was a fearless campaigner and a legendary figure for the Labour movement.
"Even when I disagreed with him, I always had enormous respect for his brilliance, his passion and his commitment to the people of Britain and of the world. My thoughts are with his family - with whom he was very close."
And ex-Labour prime minister Gordon Brown added: "Tony Benn was a powerful, fearless, relentless advocate for social justice and people's rights whose writing as well as speeches will continue to have a profound influence on generations to come."
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: "He was an extraordinary Parliamentarian.
"Whatever people felt about his political views people knew he was a man who had very strong beliefs and he always stuck to those very strong beliefs."
His death will be seen as a blow to those who agreed with his views, coming just days after the sudden death of Bob Crow, another high-profile exponent of old-style left wing politics.